Opinion Politics

Maldives govt rejects claims it is selling off atoll to Saudi Arabia – The Hindu

The Maldivian government said on Tuesday a planned multibillion dollar, Saudi-funded investment project on one of its atolls will focus on high-end tourism, and it rejected Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP’s) claims that the islands would be sold to the government of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is scheduled to make a visit this month to the chain of tiny Indian Ocean islands, which have been mired in political unrest since Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader, was deposed in 2012.

Mr. Nasheed’s Opposition party last week said the project would effectively give a foreign power control over Faafu atoll in a form of colonialisation by the Saudi government. There have been public protests about the project, over the suspected land sale it involves.

The Maldives Independent website reported that police had cracked down on a protest on Friday by Faafu atoll residents and detained some of them, who demanded details of the project.

Opposition officials say Faafu residents have vowed to protest King Salman’s visit to oppose any seizure of their land.

Yameen’s administration has arrested most of the opponents who might challenge him in 2018. The opposition claims the administration is trying to cover up corruption including money laundering, all of which the government denies.

Despite its reputation as a tourist paradise, the largely Muslim island chain of 4,00,000 people is struggling with a large number of radicalised youths enlisting to fight for Islamic State in the Middle East. The opposition says allowing Saudi influence in the country would result in more radicalisation.

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